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From Russian bug spray to a bin called Pete – odd finds on UK beaches

The National Trust has unveiled a list of the most unusual items as it urged people to help clean up the coasts.

Russian bug spray, a council bin and the remains of a 1980s picnic are among the most unusual items found washed up on beaches cared for by the National Trust.

The charity has unveiled the 20 oddest objects found on its shores – which include a working Canadian research buoy, tiny plastic soldiers and thousands of neon pink detergent bottles – to shine a spotlight on marine pollution.

The problem continues to blight UK beaches despite growing public awareness of issues such as single-use plastics ending up in the seas, the charity said.

Russian bug spray was found at Orford Ness (National Trust/Glen Pearce/PA)
Russian bug spray was found at Orford Ness (National Trust/Glen Pearce/PA)

The National Trust is calling on staff, volunteers and the public to take part in beach or river cleans as part of a campaign to encourage people to tackle pollution and help the environment.

While some of the finds are of recent items and debris, some illustrate just how long waste can last in the seas.

They include 19th, 20th and 21st century shoes beached at Orford Ness in Suffolk, recent finds of a 1976 Claws crisp packet and a 1980s picnic at Formby in Merseyside, Smarties lids from before 1988, and even a post-Prohibition era bottle of rum from the US.

Some of the items that turn up on UK beaches are from far afield, including the can of fly spray from Russia, an aerosol can from Saudi Arabia, and plastic debris covered in goose barnacles thought to have drifted from the Caribbean.

Pete, the council bin (National Trust/PA)
Pete, the council bin (National Trust/PA)

There is also the Canadian research buoy washed up at White Park Bay in Northern Ireland, still recording temperatures and sending data via satellite, and sonar equipment from Texas which turned up at the Giant’s Causeway.

But some of the debris is from closer to home, including a council bin from Peterborough, nicknamed “Pete”, which travelled 70 miles along the River Nene to Blakeney Point, and was later returned to its home constituency.

Cargo lost at sea can also account for rubbish washing up on beaches, such as nautical-themed Lego from a 1994 spill at Land’s End, and BMW parts, dog biscuits and oil-covered Mars bars from the MSC Napoli grounding off Devon in 2007.

The National Trust looks after 780 miles of coastline around England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

A 1976 crisp packet is among the things found at Formby (National Trust/Harriet Wilkinson/PA)
A 1976 crisp packet is among the things found at Formby (National Trust/Harriet Wilkinson/PA)

Phil Dyke, coastal specialist at the charity, said: “It’s fascinating to hear of the unusual things that land on our beaches, whether they’re relics from history or objects that have travelled thousands of miles.

“But as weird and wonderful as these items are, they tell a more serious story about the permanent nature of plastic, and the constant deluge of marine litter arriving on our shores.

“No-one in the UK lives more than 75 miles from the coast, so whether we’re in the city or the country, everything we do impacts on the health of our seas.”

He added: “The good news is that there has been a surge in public awareness in recent years, with more people joining beach cleans and swapping from single-use materials.

“Even small actions like using less packaging and picking up litter can make a difference. We’ve all got a part to play in helping our seas recover.”

Monitoring buoy that was found at White Park Bay (National Trust/ Cliff Henry/PA)
A monitoring buoy that was found at White Park Bay (National Trust/ Cliff Henry/PA)

– National Trust’s top 20 most unusual beach finds

Fly spray from Russia – Orford Ness, Suffolk

Council bin from Peterborough – Blakeney Point, Norfolk

Remains of a 1980s picnic – Formby, Merseyside

Thousands of neon pink detergent bottles – Lizard, Cornwall

Nautical-themed Lego from a 1994 spill at Land’s End – Whitehaven coast, Cumbria, and beaches in Devon and Cornwall

BMW parts, dog biscuits and oil-covered Mars bars from the MSC Napoli grounding – Branscombe Beach, Devon

19th, 20th and 21st century shoes – Orford Ness, Suffolk

Canadian research buoy, still recording temperatures and sending data via satellite – White Park Bay, Northern Ireland

Sonar equipment from Texas – Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

Plastic debris covered in goose barnacles, likely from the Caribbean – Brownsea Island, Dorset

Piles of broccoli and carrots – Formby, Merseyside

Rice cakes, buckets and loose apples – Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire

Parts of an old cooking range from 1900s cottages – Roseland Peninsula, Cornwall

Aerosol can from Saudi Arabia – Orford Ness, Suffolk

1976 “Claws” crisp packet – Formby, Merseyside

Tiny plastic soldiers – Whitehaven coast, Cumbria

Rowntree’s Smarties lids from pre-1988, when the confection was sold to Nestle – Whitehaven coast, Cumbria

Bottle of rum from post-Prohibition America – Formby, Liverpool

Mercedes C111 1970s bottle opener – Formby, Liverpool

26 helium balloons – Orford Ness, Suffolk

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